Brooklyn Boro

Kaufman’s Brooklyn: Nine photos from the ‘Past, present, future’ collection

October 22, 2020 Phil Kaufman
Share this:

My father, Irving Kaufman (1910 – 1982), was a professional photographer who started in Brooklyn in the mid 1930s working for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He captured thousands of images of Brooklyn through the 1950s. I have recently digitized a great many of them. My father’s profile can be found here.

This week’s theme:

Back in April, when I began the “Kaufman’s Brooklyn” display, we were at the depth of the virus pandemic. Here we are six months later, and New York has had excellent success at reducing its infection rates, until some recent spikes in areas of Brooklyn and Queens.

Before I wrap up this half-year project next week, it seems like a good time to take a look back at the changes we’ve experienced in fighting COVID-19. I’ll do that by using my father’s pictures to illustrate.

I’ll celebrate the successes since April by showing pictures from the mid-20th century that mimic the look of our life at its worst point earlier this year. Then I’ll contrast that with an image suggesting how we look now. But I’ll also add an image to represent what “normal” was before the pandemic and what we hope to get back to – all using pictures from long ago. That third picture will remind us that we’re still a long way from where we want to be and that sacrifices, patience and adaptations for safety are still very much needed.

Today’s photos:

Each day’s photos illustrate this week’s pattern — the bleak look, the improved look, and the “normal” look that we’ve lost but hope to recover — in a few distinct areas of life. Today’s selections take a look at the dilemma of restaurants and bars as well as life in downtown business sections of the city.

Dining Out

Tables are set but diners are absent. Empty restaurants everywhere, in April 2020.


Just a few, sparsely arranged. A cautious step back to indoor dining in October 2020.


Full house: what we hope to get back to. A celebration like this will be in order when conditions allow.

Having a Drink

Empty stools: The scene at every bar in town in April 2020.


Just a few allowed, but they would be further apart if this were October 2020.


Anything goes. What we (or some of us) hope to get back to.

City Streets

Deserted business district: Big, usually busy building with no people. Everywhere, in April 2020.


Many Brooklyn streets are actually much busier than this in October 2020, even though most office workers are still at home.


Long lines, crowded sidewalks — what we hope to get back to. Not fun, but it would be nice to have this option if necessary.

An index of Kaufman’s Brooklyn posts may be found here.

Irving Kaufman’s profile may be found here.

I invite you to submit comments, memories, images of Brooklyn, and especially any additional background information you can supply about the photos posted here to [email protected]. I’d also be glad to supply information about buying prints of any of the images seen here. Many of my father’s images are also available for viewing and purchase at All prints purchased will be the product of professional scanning and editing.

Weekly collection 25: Photos from the ‘Past, present, future’ collection

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment